10 New Things Happening in Downtown Las Vegas Right Now

It’s time to dive headlong into a metric ass-ton of downtown Las Vegas updates. The alternative is for us to get a life, and you know that’s not happening.

Enjoy this hastily slapped-together list of things going on downtown at the moment, including some new things to do in downtown Las Vegas, in no particular order.

1. Flamingo at Lyft Art Park

The Lyft Art Park, in the parking lot next to Park on Fremont restaurant, has updated its collection of “Grammable” art with Phoenicopterus Rex, a 40-foot flamingo. The giant flamingo made its debut at Burning Man in 2017.

Flamingo Lyft Art Park

About 750 pounds of steel are used for each of the flamingo’s legs.

2. Circa Las Vegas Gets Its Pour On

Circa Las Vegas, a new casino resort coming to Fremont Street, has already made significant progress, including a couple of recent, massive concrete pours. Here’s the latest from the site.

Circa

While Circa is expected to eventually have 777 rooms, it will open with 500 rooms and 71 suites.

On Apr. 9, 2019, 205 concrete trucks lined up to deliver 2,050 cubic yards of concrete for the foundation of Circa. Here’s where some of it went.

Circa

We will not bore you with the technical details of what’s happening here, mainly because we don’t know what those are. We do know these are elevator shafts. One bank will go halfway up Circa, the other will go all the way up.

Circa is slated to open in 2020, and the good folks at Circa have thoughtfully put up a schedule so we can keep abreast of what’s happening when.

Circa

Thanks, Circa. Suitable for lamination.

Here’s a bonus new thing you need to know about: If you’re a fan of the Project BBQ truck, please know it’s relocated. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding it, as it’s only moved 20 feet.

Project BBQ

Consider your visit to the Circa site a catered affair.

Oh, and here’s a bonus bonus: In a nearby location, we spotted some early exposure tests of the Circa windows.

Circa windows

Fun fact: The spots without glass are LED panels. So, the entire side of Circa will essentially be a video screen. The mind reels.

3. Golden Gate Sports Book Underway

Just across from the Circa site, Golden Gate is quickly working on its news sports book. We popped our head in, because that’s sort of how we roll, despite it’s being related to sports. The new sports book at Golden Gate will open June 1, 2019, under the Circa Sports brand.

Golden Gate sports book

While the sports book at Golden Gate will be one of downtown’s smallest, the one at Circa is being billed as the world’s biggest.

4. Santos Tacos & Beer Opens

We’ve spoken often of “Restaurant Row” on Carson Street downtown, as it boasts several popular dining establishments including Carson Kitchen, Vegenation, 7th & Carson and Eat. Now, Santos Tacos & Beer has taken up residence in the former Bomb Tacos space.

Santos Tacos downtown

This space has hosted a string of restaurant concepts. Let’s hope this one sticks.

Santos Tacos is a solid offering, and well worth a stop to help manage those drunchies. One of the quirky aspects of this new restaurant is its “Saint of the Day.”

Santos Tacos

The day we visited, Celine was the “Saint of the Day,” and we can all get onboard with that.

5. Cat’s Meow Karaoke Bar in the Works

Despite our best efforts to keep karaoke from being a thing in Las Vegas, Cat’s Meow at Neonopolis actually seems to have potential.

Cat's Meow

In case you’ve wondered what’s going on in there. This is that.

Cat’s Meow has its roots in New Orleans, and will take over a massive, 10,000-square-foot space on the second floor of Neonopolis.

Cat's Meow

Curiosity is the only thing we have in common with cats.

You can see Cat’s Meow from the street, and the owners say they’re trying to get approval for a staircase from Fremont Street. Access has proven a challenge for a number of businesses in Neonopolis.

Cat's Meow Las Vegas

Cat’s Meow will have multiple bars, a necessary amenity when there’s karaoke.

It sounds like Cat’s Meow will open in May 2019, and another sing-along business, OD’s, will follow in a adjacent space.

6. Don’t Tell Mama on the Move

In other Neonopolis news, Don’t Tell Mama, a piano lounge with a passionate following, has moved to the retail complex. Don’t Tell Mama originally opened in 2009.

Don't Tell Mama

Now, you know where that place you know nothing about is.

7. Downtown Grand’s Gets a New Tower

While Downtown Grand’s casino is often under-peopled, the hotel side of the business is apparently booming, so Downtown Grand is building a new hotel tower. The new tower will sit in the space where the hotel’s porte cochere used to be and construction will add 495 new rooms to the hotel.

Downtown Grand construction

Rest assured, we’ll be keeping an eye on Downtown Grand’s new erection.

8. Whiskey Licker Up at Binion’s

Construction continues in dramatic fashion at Binion’s, making way for a new venue called Whiskey Licker Up.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Binion’s lost a little neon, but there’s plenty left.

Of course we poked our head inside. Do you know this blog at all?

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Walls are highly overrated.

Whiskey Licker Up will be a bar and lounge with a rotating bar as its centerpiece. There will be food, dancing and live entertainment as well. Read more.

Whiskey Licker Up

Consider this the “before” photo.

The new bar will wrap around one corner of Binion’s providing a sweet view of the festivities below. Whiskey Licker Up is expected to open summer 2019.

9. Hotel Apache Takes Reservations

See what we did there? Back in February, which never seems correctly spelled, Binion’s announced it would open about 80 rooms in a boutique, hotel-within-a-hotel, Hotel Apache. The rooms are decorated in a vintage style, and Binion’s isn’t being shy about how some believe the place is haunted. Rooms can now be booked online.

Hotel Apache

We’ve heard Hotel Apache, like its sister hotel, Four Queens, won’t have a resort fee, so there’s that.

10. First Fremont Street Experience Canopy LEDs Arrive

Fremont Street Experience, where we work in marketing as our day job (opinions are our own, as if that weren’t readily apparent), is getting a $32 million renovation of its Viva Vision screen. The canopy upgrade is a huge undertaking, and the first shipment of LEDs were recently delivered.

Fremont Street Experience canopy upgrade

These crates hold just 1/16th of the LEDs needed for the Viva Vision upgrade.

We poked our camera into one of the crates to get a look at the new LEDs. The Viva Vision canopy renovation starts around May 6, 2019, and the upgraded video screen will debut on New Year’s Eve.

Viva Vision modules

These LEDs will give the Viva Vision screen seven times the brightness and four times the resolution.

The light shows at Fremont Street Experience will continue to play throughout the upgrade. Installation of the new LEDs will happen in the late evening through early morning in 150-foot sections (from the west end of the street, near Golden Gate, to the east, near White Castle), but the shows will play with little interruption.

This Doesn’t Fit With the Rest of the List, But We’re Sharing Anyway

We figured it was worth mentioning, Beauty Bar on Fremont East has closed and isn’t coming back. The entertainment venue didn’t go down without some drama, but the curtain has fallen for the last time on this beleaguered venue.

Beauty Bar closed

Beauty Bar opened in 2004, and was once co-owned by Corey Harrison of “Pawn Stars” fame.

We trust our list satisfies your thirst for downtown Las Vegas updates.

Downtown offers a distinct and idiosyncratic, to say the least, alternative to the Las Vegas Strip.

We do our best to keep you in the loop on all the latest news, mainly because it gives us an excuse to drink and gamble downtown more. We also love keeping you informed. But mainly the drinking and gambling thing. Just keeping it real.

17 thoughts on “10 New Things Happening in Downtown Las Vegas Right Now

  1. Martin Veneroso

    Whereabouts inside the Golden Gate is that sportsbook being built? Is it going into the space formerly occupied by the Bay City Diner / Du-Pars?

    Reply
    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Nope, the sports book is at the back of the recent expansion (the footprint of the former La Bayou). Du-Par’s space is now casino, on the Plaza side.

      Reply
  2. Scott Hutchinson

    The casinos/hotels/restaurants on Fremont Street are great, I was just there last weekend. However, Fremont Street itself sucks. Between the “homeless,” the “entertainers,” the “photo ops,” and the general group of folks who think that holding a sign saying to go f*** myself will get them tips, these people should be hauled away or at least cleared out and told not to come back. So many parents decide to bring their kids (a bad idea, in my opinion) and this is what they are exposed to? At least there are no idiots standing around handing out escort/stripper services cards, so there’s that.

    Reply
    1. Terri

      We were there over the National Finals Rodeo and the “street element” has gotten extremely disgusting – a woman with half an arm flailing around thinking she’s dancing for tips / a dirty old man in a Santa suit in a wheelchair with a sign on one side “Merry Christmas” if you tip – if you don’t he flips the the sign “**** you” on the other – I totally agree – Fremont Street needs a “deep cleaning”

      Reply
  3. Karaoke Steve

    I don’t understand why people think a karaoke joint is fun. The few times I’ve been forced to sit through it, I find that nobody gives a shit about the music unless it’s a person from their group who is singing. And there’s always one frustrated songbird who just never got the break she deserved, and aims to prove it, more than once, for the benefit of the bar. Eff her.

    But morons love the sing along, which explains why American Idol and The Voice are a thing after all these years.

    Ish, I say, but more stuff to get Neonopolis hopping is always welcome. Downtown is boring during the day when you’re not gambling and it’s non-pool weather. Hopping bars at Neonopolis won’t do us any good on a weekday afternoon, but traffic begets traffic.

    Great info, Scotty!

    Reply
  4. Tom

    Let’s see, Fitzgerald’s wasn’t all that special but Derek Steven’s somehow made it worse with the D. Golden Gate was an absolute gem that he transformed into just another slot parlor with no food. I wonder how Circa will end up? (Three guesses and the first two don’t count.)

    Reply
    1. Martin Veneroso

      À chacun son goût, Tom, but my recollection of Fitzgerald’s and the Golden Gate in their pre-Stevens incarnations differs significantly from yours. Fitz was never much but was still managing to be in decline, and the Golden Gate was a festering hole with a decent coffee shop and an amazing deli. As far as the Golden Gate being without a food outlet, you can hardly blame Stevens for the closure of Du-Pars, and by the time that happened he was probably already thinking about what he could do with much more space, such that opening an outlet in that space, either in-house or finding someone on the outside to take it over just didn’t seem worth the difficulty.

      Reply
    2. Chris

      Then go somewhere else. This is 2019 and times change. I stayed at the Fitz 13 or so years ago and it was an absolute dump. I personally LOVE the D and although the Golden Gate was really smoky the bartenders and dealers were great. I am looking forward to Circa more than any vegas attraction ever. It will be new, hip and geared toward sports bettors. And if the D and GG are an example then the gambling will be fair and comps generous.

      Reply
  5. Scott

    Derek Stevens in 0 for 3 with me. The D is one of the most boring concepts in Las Vegas. The Golden Gate, while nice, is someplace I can never visit because there’s no restaurant and the music is blasting your ears off (turn down the music volume, this isn’t a night club). And now the Circa, which has no business being on Fremont Street. There is nothing about Circa’s design that fits in with Fremont Street. It belongs on the Strip.

    Reply
    1. Kevzilla

      You can’t visit the Golden Gate because it doesn’t have a restaurant? How often do you need to eat?

      Reply
  6. William Wingo

    I have to agree with many of the “negative” posters.

    In olden days, I stayed at most of the downtown hotels at one time or another. Never at Golden Gate, but I have fond memories of their 99-cent shrimp cocktail, break-in-dealer Blackjack, and wonderfully tacky atmosphere. I also visited most of the other downtown landmarks, including–once–Girls of Glitter Gulch. I was there when they broke ground on FSE and I said at the time, “This is not an improvement.” And I still stand by that statement today.

    I haven’t set foot downtown in many years: not since the famous “Binion’s surprise parking charge incident” described in other posts here and elsewhere. But now, suddenly, I’m getting email discount offers from Golden Gate and the D, without doing anything I’m aware of to get their attention. If they were full comp offers, I might consider it. After all, I already have that at a couple of “off-strip” houses and in Laughlin. But just a discount downtown, not even waiving the resort fee? Not likely.

    Mr. Stevens is doing to downtown that Messrs. Wynn, Murren, and Adelson did to the Strip, and I predict that it will turn out the same way. If I were only a little more cynical, I’d bet that Circa will go the way of City Center or Lucky Dragon. If I were more cynical than that, I’d add FontaineDrew or even Harmon.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.